An Post is set to recall workers a day early from their Christmas holidays in order to deal with expected demand for free HSE Covid-19 antigen test kits.
Following a HSE request, there will be a full nationwide delivery of all barcoded postal items on Wednesday, December 29.
Staff had not been due to return to work until the following day.
The shift will be four hours in length, paid at overtime rates, with priority to be given to the delivery of antigen test kits.
A spokesperson for An Post said that the service “does not comment on operational matters”.
“An Post has been delivering antigen tests for the HSE and will continue to do so,” a spokesperson said.
The move has been backed by the postal service’s largest workers’ group, the Communications Workers’ Union, with general secretary Sean McDonagh, in a circular to all members, “strongly urging” them to “cooperate with this initiative” on foot of the national challenge posed by the Omicron variant.
Sources have suggested that the move has been prompted by an expected surge in demand for free HSE-distributed antigen kits following an expected heightened mixing of households over the Christmas break.
An Post outlets were due to be closed from 1pm on Christmas Eve until December 29 inclusive.
The HSE has been offering free antigen tests to asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases of the virus who are aged over 13 since the end of October.
Such fully vaccinated close contacts are delivered tests by post in batches of five once track and trace has established the close contacts of a confirmed case.
Since mid-December antigen kits have also been offered to the parents of children in childcare or primary school settings which have recorded positive cases of Covid-19.
Previously, close contacts who returned a negative antigen result were no longer required to restrict their movements.
The guidance on those situations has now changed however, with those who are fully vaccinated but who have not received a booster shot, or who only did so in the last seven days, now required to restrict movements for ten days, do five antigen tests, and self-isolate if any of them are positive.
This also applies to people who have not received their first dose of vaccines.
People who have gotten a booster shot more than seven days ago, or who are fully vaccinated but have had the virus within the past six months, are meanwhile required to do three antigen tests and restrict their movements for five days.